Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Shelter of the Sea

I feel your wet shifting sand ~ Taste your sweet salty air ~ And I am renewed again...With the joy of living.  ~D. Morgan

Breathe deep and smell the invigorating salty air.  Listen to the waves crashing like thunder and spraying your face with a fine mist, then listen in the quiet as they retreat into the sea.  Dig your toes into the warm sand, finding the cool dampness underneath.  Reach down and pick up the shell, dust the sand away and hold it to your ear, hear the sound of the distant ocean.  Look up and watch the wingspan of the crying seagulls as they dance in the sunlit sky.

From T. S. Eliot's "The sea has many voices" to Ralph Waldo Emerson's "I wiped away the weeds and foam, I fetched my sea-born treasures home" and to Robert Louis Stevenson's "And what is the sea? asked Will.  "The sea!" cried the miller.  "Lord help us all, it is the greatest thing God made." -- all show the love of the sea by poets gone by.

My brother-in-law loved the ocean.  Each year Ray would take Melodie to Cape May where they would stay in a bed and breakfast, walk the beach, pick up shells and watch the sun rise.  Last year Melodie wanted to go back to the place they loved so much.  I was able to go with her and it was a week full of old memories, honoring the romantic man Ray was, and making a few new memories of our own.

I had forgotten the charm of the ocean. In Longfellow's "The Sound of Sea" he says,

My soul is full of longing 
For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.

It reminds me of Psalm 104, God, how great you are!  You stretched out the starry curtain of the heavens, and hollowed out the surface of the earth to form the sea. Can you picture the hand of God hollowing out the sea?   The thunderous waves? God made them.  The sands?  God made every grain.  The sea gulls and sand pipers?  Yes, God made them.

Photo by Ray Satterfield
Really, when you stop to think about it, the vastness of God's power is overwhelming.  Because as God's hand was hollowing out the sea, He was making a small oyster that would produce a pearl.  Some believe that pearls are  tears of the gods.  Others say they are dewdrops filled with moonlight that fall into the ocean and are swallowed by oysters.  We know the truth, God created them.  And when God surveyed His handiwork He said, "This is good."

The thought that God made the vast ocean and seas, yet planned the pearl causes a wave of joy.  He's a God of tiny details.  Yes, He can heal a man with leprosy and yet help me find my car keys. How great He is!  My God can make the sun to stand still and yet hear the prayers of my grandson praying for little Jon Budensiek, a boy he's never met.  How great He is!  God can open the doors of a prison and yet cares about my daughter's math test. As Ray Price puts it, "He's big enough to rule the mighty universe, yet small enough to live within my heart."

This God, this great God, is my God.  He shelters me with the crashing waves of the sea -- and with the knowledge of His greatness.  With the Psalmist I say, Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!  Let us shout His praise.

* * * * *

Shell Crafts

Martha Stewart has 28 shell crafts, including several I really liked. 

Disney's Family Fun has fun shell crafts to do with the kids.

The Shore Girl has ideas for sea themed cards.  Once you are at her blog, do a search for "sea" and you find some other ideas, too.

The Graphics Fairy has some neat printables you can use for cards.  Again, do a search for more.

By the Crystal Sea Sheet Music
          Vintage Seashell

Melissa and Doug have a whole line of sand toys.  Not going to the sea?  Use them in the sandbox.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Reflective Sheltering

When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God, we become mirrors.  Oswald Chambers

Can we shelter by reflecting  the life of Jesus and mirroring His character?    It should be the goal of each of us to reflect Christ as we shelter.  If I shelter with resentment, does the one I shelter feel love?  If I shelter with impatience does the one I shelter feel peaceful?  If I shelter with obligatory giving does the one I shelter feel joyous?  

Typing these words remind me of something Paul wrote to the Corinthians.  If I gave everything I have to the poor...I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.  It's not just in sheltering that we spread love, joy and peace.  It's our attitude while doing these acts of shelter.

How did Jesus shelter the leper?  He touched him with gentle kindness.  How did Jesus shelter Martha when her brother died?  He cried with her.  Jesus sheltered the widow giving her only coins by bragging on her and the woman caught in adultery with a second chance.  He offered love, kindness, loyalty and peace. He changed lives.  And if our shelter is going to change lives, then we need to reflect His character. 

When one of my daughters was young (I'm protecting the guilty), she loved watching herself in the mirror.  Whether she was singing, playing the piano or talking to an imaginary friend, she watched her reflection.  She didn't want other family members to observe this practice -- She wanted to be alone. The best way I've found to be a reflection of Christ is to be "shut in with Him."  I found these beautiful lyrics but couldn't find the name of the author.


Shut in with God in a secret place;
There in the Spirit beholding His face;
Gaining more power to run in the race,
Oh, how I long to be shut in with God.

Shut in with God while kneeling in prayer,
Finding His beauty and glory there....
I bow in wonder at His awesome grace,
As He shuts me in His holy place.

As I'm shut in with God, my strength is renewed,
I soar like a eagle, I'm born anew...
O the wonder! O the grace!
As I'm shut in with God
in this holy place! 

As we shut ourselves in with God, We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Oswald Chambers said, "The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character."

I want to spend time this week shut up with rejoice in the wonder, to glory in the be a reflection of Him so my sheltering will produce love, joy and peace.